Friday, June 20, 2008

Faculty are short on time

I recently finished reading Faculty-Librarian Relationships by Paul O. Jenkins. The number one thing I took away from this book is that faculty are extremely busy people who cite lack of time as their number one stressor. They are expected to teach, research, publish, hold office hours, serve on committees, advise, and so much more - to the point where the whole idea of summers off really isn't the case. Their summers are full of all the work they had no time to do during the year. What does this mean for librarians? Anything we can do to make the lives of the faculty easier will make us look really good!

I hear (and admittedly am sometimes part of) the common complaint that it is hard to get faculty to make time for instruction in their classes. Often they probably just don't have time - to plan it, to fit it in, etc. Reaching out to them, and offering to provide however short or long an instruction session may prove more effective. I have often thought about offering to go into the classroom for 5-10 minutes, give a short intro to the library, and hand out a sheet containing a list of things librarians can help students with. But I worry that it's a slippery slope, and offering this option will result in an increase in short sessions and a decrease in 50 minute instruction sessions. I am still undecided.

Some other takeaways:
1. Often unreasonable requests come from faculty because they simply do not know library policies and procedures.
2. Let them know what we can do for them - they often don't know!

Jenkins interviewed 15 faculty members at the College of Mount Saint Joseph. Some things they mentioned:
1. One faculty member tries to tell students that librarians get excited about helping them.
2. A Ph.D. means you know a great deal about a very small area of study. People often think faculty know everything.
3. Several mentioned that students are less interested in learning and seem to be focused on doing the minimum to get the degree and the job.
4. Several also mentioned that students will not read.

The book also mentioned this great list of 100 Ways to Reach your Faculty by Terri L. Holtze. Lots of good ideas - a few of which I already do, and many which I hope to implement.

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